The meaning of Christmas according to the Course (December 23, 2010)

A few years back I gathered together all the Course’s allusions to Christmas, even passing uses of Christmas imagery, and then tried to organize into a single narrative what the Course has to say about Christmas. I know it is quite late in the season, and most of us are probably focused on preparations for the day, but if you are interested, here is my attempt to capture what the Course is telling us about Christmas:

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Jesus was not born into this world because of our sinfulness, and so that we could laud him as a special divine being. Rather, he is one of us, who simply made the decision we all must make. That is what made his life holy. His decision is a light within our minds that calls us to make the same decision. Because of his decision, his life (not his birth) was the birth of holiness into this world. 

How do we celebrate his birth? The Christmas season is not inherently holy; it is just an illusion: “Neither time nor season means anything in eternity.” But we can make it holy. “It is in your power to make this season holy, for it is in your power to make the time of Christ be now.” We do so by allowing the original Christmas event to be repeated in us. We choose to make the same decision that Jesus did. We allow Christ to be born in us. For the world is still in the darkness it was back then. And it needs the birth of holiness now just as much as it did then. 

So, rather than seeing the Christ child as a unique divine infant outside us, we should see Him as being born inside of us, born in us to awaken us to our own divinity. Rather than seeing His birth as something that happened long ago, we need to realize that “The birth of Christ is now, without a past or future.” Rather than seeing the Christmas star shining in the skies of ancient Palestine, announcing the birth of Jesus, we should see it shining in the Heaven within, a sign of the impending birth of the Christ within us. Rather than welcome Him into the lowly manger of long ago, we should welcome Him into his true home—the temple of holiness deep in our minds. Rather than playing modern-day wise men and offering the Christ child lavish gifts of love and praise, we should give Him our ego’s poison, our illusions, our resentments, our pettiness, so that our minds are clear of impediments to His birth in us. Rather than demanding that our brothers give us generous gifts in order to prove their love, we should release them from all demands and offer them the freedom of true love. 

This last point is encapsulated in the practice at the end of the Course’s Christmas discussions, in which we release someone whom we had chained to our ego’s demands. This could be called the Christmas Prayer: 

I give you to the Holy Spirit as part of myself.

I know that you will be released, unless I want

to use you to imprison myself.

In the name of my freedom I choose your release,

because I recognize that we will be released together.

 

In short, we need to prepare a holy place for the birth of the Christ in us. He is an alien to this world, to its sights of violence and sounds of war. He is an alien to the battleground of our ego’s thoughts. We need to prepare a place in us that mirrors the holiness of where He comes from and therefore provides him with a nurturing environment. We prepare this place by giving over our hate and by releasing all our brothers from our demands. We prepare it by clearing a space in our mind that is totally empty and quiet—receptive, expectant. We prepare it by fully entering the present moment, where Christ is forever being born. We prepare it by entering a holy instant. We may enter this instant in the privacy of our own mind, or we may enter it by joining with a brother through mutual forgiveness. Either way, this is how we make the season holy. This is how we repeat what happened with the original Christmas. 

We don’t prepare a place for Him by making painful sacrifices in order to make ourselves worthy. Rather, we need to realize that we already are worthy: “Learn that you must be worthy of the Prince of Peace, born in you in honor of Him Whose host you are….Before the greatness that lives in you, your poor appreciation of yourself and all the little offerings you give slip into nothingness.” 

If we prepare this holy home, the birth will happen. The angels will come and surround us and watch with us while Heaven’s Son is born. For they are not mythical creatures from the Bible; they are real messengers from God who will attend the birth of the Christ in us, just as they attended the birth of Jesus so long ago. And Jesus, in a loving reversal of roles, will then celebrate our birth. This birth is, as the Course says, “your awakening to grandeur,” in which the Self that you truly are is born within you. This birth will be the beginning of a new future. Out of this Christmas season, a new kind of year will be born. Out of this holy instant, a new world will be born. 

Even though the infant within us will be small and vulnerable, He will carry within Himself all power, all the miracles that we one day will perform. While He is being readied for His mighty task, the angels will nurse Him and nourish Him. They will spread their wings over Him and protect Him. He will literally be surrounded by divine protection: “Your newborn purpose is nursed by angels, cherished by the Holy Spirit and protected by God Himself.” 

He will also need the protection of our exchanging ego-based thinking for holy thinking. Yet, even in His tiny state, His holiness will protect us. He will be our teacher, teaching us His language, which is our true native tongue, and giving us eyes to see with new vision. We must follow Him, for He is our salvation. Our task is to make His home our home, to fully identify with the holy place in us where He lives. 

As He slowly grows up, He will eventually be ready to go out into the world and begin His ministry. He will then reach out through us, performing miracles through our hands. He will lead us not to the cross, but to the resurrection and the life. And as He does, He will complete the mighty task given Him—He will save the world. A new world will dawn, unlike the old world in every way. Ultimately, He will bring about the ending of the world, not in fire and destruction, but in lightness and laughter. 

All of this will be the natural consequence of what began when we made a holy place in us for Christ to be reborn. As the Course promises us about the rebirth of Christ, “What is here begun will grow in life and strength and hope, until the world is still an instant and forgets all that the dream of sin had made of it.”

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